The above enlarged image is that of a Golden Heart Lingam. (Sanskrit: Hiraṇyagarbha, literally the golden womb or golden cosmic egg.) The lingam in the photograph was materialized with a wave of Sathya Sai Baba's hand on May 5, 1991. Below is the only publicly available photograph taken of the lingam, showing Sai Baba holding it right after he materialized it. He dematerialized the lingam shortly after displaying it.
There is no video of the incident, which was witnessed only by attendees at a talk he gave to students at his school in Whitefield, near Bangalore. There is no recording of what Sai Baba said at the time about the lingam. And so we have only the recollection of two Indians who were present regarding what Sai Baba said about the lingam. Both accounts, made independently, agree that Sai Baba said his energy would work miracles just through a photograph of the lingam.
This announcement amazed me and surely all who were familiar with Sathya Sai Baba's life. There have been many accounts of Sai Baba's devotees receiving miraculous help after praying to a photograph of him, and this phenomenon isn't limited to Sai Baba. Throughout history people have received grace by praying to an image or symbol of a holy person or the Divine. And of course many have been saved without appealing to an image and without even asking for grace.
Yet what Sathya Sai Baba said about the saving grace of the Golden Heart lingam he'd materialized was unprecedented for him. Never before, at least not in public, had Sai Baba said that his energy could work just through a photograph and not add any qualifiers to the statement.
He was as much saying one didn't need to be a devotee of his to receive grace through the photograph, didn't need to pray to the photograph. Just seeing the photograph conferred grace.
By implication one could receive grace from seeing the photo of the lingam whether one loves Sathya Sai Baba or hates him, is neutral about him or has never heard his name. From my personal interactions with him, and from all else I know about him, none of that mattered to Sai Baba, who didn't incarnate to be loved or worshiped. He incarnated in answer to prayers for help from very desperate people.
His solution for such people was something many of them didn't want to hear.
Sathya Sai Baba once said, "I am like the mother who can only comfort her sick child until the doctor arrives."
The Buddha was famously called the Great Physician.
It's just that it wasn't obvious because Sai Baba sugarcoated the remedy in countless ways depending on the person seeking help, and because the scene at his ashrams when he was in residence could be fascinating to the point of distracting.
Sathya Sai Baba had more than one function, so he didn't only play mother to a sick child. But his basic mission was to show people who wanted to be saved that while he could run interference when they were overwhelmed by troubles, and help them see a serious character flaw that often was on their blind side, they themselves had to do the work of character improvement.
By his own admission he used incentives, in the form of his supernatural powers, to encourage and spur on the work. Yet in the end, you have to do it yourself. If you keep depending on divine grace to do it for you, human nature and the vagaries of life dictate that you'll keep landing in the frying pan.
A note: There is video of Sai Baba bringing up a golden lingam from his mouth some time after the May 5, 1991 incident. When word traveled about the incident, many of his devotees must have clamored to see the lingam manifested, and so it seems he granted their wish.
However, my view is that if he'd wanted the lingam he materialized on May 5 to be seen in person by many people, he would have arranged this. It seems he brought forth the lingam just to have it photographed for the express purpose of allowing many people to share the photo.
(There might have been additional reasons for the materialization that day, which I speculated about in my earlier posts about the lingam.)
So is the lingam he brought from his mouth the same one he materialized on May 5, 1991? I don't know, although from what I remember of the video, I'd tend to think it wasn't.
In any case I'm satisfied just to see the photograph. At the least, the sight of it reminds me to work for the only gold that counts -- good character.
Three earlier Pundita posts about the lingam:
Saving power of photo of Golden Heart Lingam - Sathya Sai Baba; June 1, 2019
More on Sathya Sai Baba and the Golden Heart Lingam; June 21, 2019
"I am the Creator of the Hiranyagarbha from which Brahma was born"; November 23, 2019